When the Tooth Pain Persists But X-rays Show Nothing Wrong

Parkland Dental Clinic

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when the tooth pain persists but x-rays show nothing wrong
when the tooth pain persists but x-rays show nothing wrong

Have you ever experienced a toothache that won’t budge, regardless of what you try? It can be quite frightening as well as frustrating. You might go to the dentist near you and get X-rays taken, only to find out that everything looks normal. So, why does your tooth still hurt? Let’s dive into this mystery together.

Understanding Toothaches: Dental vs. Non-Dental Causes

First things first, let’s understand what a toothache is. When your tooth hurts, it can be because of something happening inside your tooth (like a cavity) or around it. Dentists call problems inside your tooth “dental” issues. But sometimes the pain isn’t because of your tooth at all. That’s where “non-dental” causes come in.

Unexplained Toothaches

For instance, you go to the dentist, and they take X-rays. They say, “Your tooth looks healthy.” But you’re still in pain. Frustrating, right? The following are some explanations for why this could occur:

Non-Dental Reasons Behind Toothaches

1. Sinus Infection

Did you know that your sinuses are like neighbours to your teeth? Sometimes, when you have a cold or sinus infection, the pressure from your sinuses can make your teeth ache. They’re like your sinuses giving a message to your teeth, saying, “Hey, things aren’t great up here, so we’re going to share the discomfort down below.”

2. TMJ Disorders

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. It’s a fancy term for the joint that helps you move your mouth, like chewing your favourite snacks or talking with friends. Sometimes, this joint can get angry, and you might feel TMJ joint pain near your jaw and teeth. It’s like your jaw throws a tantrum, and your teeth are caught in the middle.

3. Neuralgia

Neuralgia is when the nerves in your face act up and cause pain. It’s like they’re sending the wrong signals to your brain, saying, “Ouch,” even when there’s nothing wrong. These trouble-making nerves can make your teeth ache for no apparent reason.

4. Other Less Common Causes (briefly mentioned)

There are some other rare reasons why your tooth might hurt, even when it looks okay on an X-ray. Things like referred pain (when a problem in one part of your body causes pain somewhere else) or even stress can play a role. It’s like your body is playing a game of hide-and-seek with the source of your pain.

Self-Care Tips and When to Seek Help

Now that we know some possible reasons for your mystery toothache, what can you do about it?

  • Be gentle. Avoid chewing on hard or sticky foods that could make your toothache worse.
  • Rinse with saltwater. Swishing some warm salt water in your mouth can help ease the pain.
  • Use a cold pack. Putting a cold pack on your cheek outside the sore area can help numb the pain.
  • Try over-the-counter pain relievers. If your toothache bothers you, ask an adult if you can take pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

But if your toothache keeps bothering you, it’s time to see the dentist again. Even if the X-rays can’t tell which tooth is aching, they might want to take another look or try other tests to figure out what’s going on. Don’t worry; they’re like detectives for your teeth.


Tooth pain can be a real pain, especially when X-rays show nothing wrong. But there are lots of possible reasons why your tooth might still hurt, from referred pain to hidden problems deep inside your tooth. The important thing is to talk to your dentist and take good care of your teeth.

With a bit of detective work and some TLC, you’ll have that toothache feeling better in no time. Parkland Mall Dental can stand with you in times of need and help you diagnose toothache while recommending the most suitable TMJ treatment & therapy in Red Deer.

(587) 802-3743